You thought the jazz crowd would start winding down early for Christmas, didn’t you?

Well, you’d be wrong – it’s as busy a week as you want to make it.

Let’s start at the more adventurous end of the genre, shall we?

The free jazz fans that run Fizzle have come up with one of their best line-ups yet tomorrow evening with legendary soprano saxophonist Lol Coxhill, alto man Frode Gerstad, bassist Nick Stephens and one of the most creative drummers around, Paal Nilssen-Love.

Nilssen-Love can make amazing rhythms from a suitcase full of junk and he once showed me how if a cymbal gets damaged in the fray, he just cuts it into a smaller one. He has some very small cymbals.

These players are at The Lamp Tavern, Barford Street, Birmingham. It starts at 9pm and there is more information on

From here on it’s party time and the main man for a party is, of course, Andy Hamilton.

He and his Blue Notes plus special guests don their Santa hats at 9pm on Thursday (doors open 8.30) at the Corks Club, 558 Bearwood Road.

Entry is £5 (£4 concs) and there is more at or on 0121 4559454.

On Friday evening soothe the Rush Hour Blues with singer Esther Bennett and her band (5.30-7pm in the Symphony Hall foyer bar and free) before heading over to Birmingham Town Hall for what should be a great night with Black Voices.

Not strictly jazz but possibly the finest gospel ensemble in the country, and for this concert they reprise the great Quincy Jones R’n’B version of Handel’s Messiah with which they, the BBC Big Band and a specially-formed Town Hall Gospel Choir opened the Town Hall in October last year. They will all be there again on Friday and the inspirational Ken Burton is the conductor.

Tickets are £15 (£10 children) and available from or on 0121 780 3333. It starts at 7.30pm.

On Saturday the Sussex Jazz Kings deck the halls with boughs of swinging holly. Or, to more precise, deck the Quinborne Community Centre in Quinton, new temporary home of the Waterworks Jazz Club. Tickets are £9 (members) and £12 (guests), more at

Sunday is Stratford Jazz Christmas Special time at 8pm, and Birmingham visitors are the Ben Markland Quintet – Ben on bass, Chris Bowden on alto, Bryan Corbett on trumpet, Pete Harris on guitar and Neil Bullock on drums. What a fine way for this hard-working little club at the White Swan Hotel to round off a very good year.

Tickets only for this one cost £8 and are available from Roy, 01789 298607. Info at

If you can’t wait for Sunday evening, The Scarlet Pimpernel in Tennal Road, Harborne has The Edgar Macias Trio and vocalist Brenda Scott from 3pm for free. Info 0121 426 0930.